6 Observational Drawing Skills Art Lessons

Drawing from direct observation is a foundational and integral part of the artistic experience. Almost every art piece begins with a drawing. No matter what medium you are working in whether it be drawing, painting, printmaking, architecture, or 3D media-sculpture, mosaic or ceramics, drawings will be intertwined with the creative process.

Through learning observational drawing skills, students will learn to make compositional choices as well as accurately depict form, light and shadow. Direct observation lessons are vital for building hand-eye coordination skills and all of these lessons exercise this important skill.

Supplies EVERY Artist Needs to Draw:

Mead Académie Spiral Sketchbook / Sketch Pad, Heavyweight Paper, 70 Sheets, 11 x 8.5 Inch Sheet Size, Staedtler Pencil Mars Lumograph, 12 Pieces Set,  General Kimberly Watercolor Pencil set, General Charcoal Pencil Kit (12 piece)

body proportions mannequin Charcoal DrawingBody Proportions – Wooden Mannequin Drawing

Lesson #1: Body Proportions – Wooden Mannequin Sketchbook Assignment

Lesson #2: Mannequin White Charcoal Project





Slice diced forms Drawing HeaderSliced and Diced Form Drawing

Draw the 6 Basic 3D forms: Sphere, Cylinder, Donuts, Cone, Pyramid, & Cube/Rectangular Prism. students will learn how to accurately “slice” through the forms to see inside them and render with full shading. They will then create a composition using cuts and slices of the 6 basic shapes.



Enlargement Magnification Drawing Small to BIG – Enlargement Drawing

High School Art & AP Studio Art Classes Breadth Enlargement Drawing

Small to Big – Enlargement Drawing was our first project for breadth in AP and I also had my advanced level students create it as well in hopes that they can perhaps put it in their portfolio if they choose to take AP in the future.
Students will use observational drawing skills to create an accurate drawing of a physically small object enlarged or magnified onto a large sheet of paper (so large it goes off the page on at least 3 sides). Apply knowledge of the “5 Elements of Shading” to render the drawing with a full range of values.

pvc pipe charcoal drawingPVC Pipe Charcoal Drawing

Review drawing angles of lines, curved lines, and ellipses  using fluid motion swinging from the shoulder and elbow. Observe proportions  and points of view. Analyze angles of objects and the slants of the contour edges using the sighting techniques. They will learn how to construct a cylinder and use directional lines to draw PVC pipes accurately. They will use a pencil to check proportions and compare proportions of various PVC pipes within the still life composition.

Lego Drawings

High school art students used observational skills and knowledge of 2 point perspective to accurately draw a LEGO sculpture that they composed. There are two separate lessons that either used charcoal or colored pencils to render the drawings.

Lego Charcoal DrawingLego Charcoal Drawing HS Art Lesson







lego colored pencil drawingLEGO Colored Pencil Drawing







Sea Shell Pastel DrawingSea Shell Pastel Drawing

The Sea Shell Pastel Lesson can apply to upper elementary art, middle school art, or high school art. Compose an interesting shell arrangement, practice observational skills and apply pastel techniques.




Additional Technique Lessons:

Oil Pastel Worksheet, Dry Pastel Worksheet, Charcoal WorksheetDrawing Pencil Set Value and Shading Worksheet, Color Pencil Worksheet

If you choose to use this lesson or to repost it (written info or photos), please link it back to my blog. Create Art with ME.

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